X Marks the Firefall

X Marks the Horsetail Falls Firefall in Yosemite National Park

X Marks the Horsetail Falls Firefall in Yosemite National Park

Following my adage that some photos need proper time to age, comes the above unique view of Yosemite’s Horsetail Falls Firefall.  Taken during my trip last February, I rediscovered this photo today while working on my year end Favorite Photos of 2010 blog post.

Right as the sunset approached it’s narrowest sliver on Horsetail Falls, I pulled my face away from the camera and noticed that two airplanes had crossed paths above the falls creating an X with their contrails. I quickly zoomed out to capture this wider view including the contrails. It is one of my favorite images from that trip (hint, hint).

Many a time have I been out photographing and noticed contrails in the sky that distract from the desired landscape or nature photograph I’m working to create.  Just as often I’ve heard from other photographers about this great vista that they photographed, only to point out contrails to them in their image–something that we are all so used to seeing that at times we don’t realize how distracting they are.  However, every so often those contrails are there for a reason…and you have to break the rules.

The above photograph is actually a HDR of three frames that were mapped together.  The end result is very realistic in nature and adds just a bit more texture to the sky which completes the image.  I have been working more and more with the collection of exposure bracketed photos that I have since I gave myself the Christmas present of Nik Software’s HDR Efex Pro.  I have tested multiple other HDR software in the past but always found their workflow to be either to complicated or overall requiring too much time per image — I have a big enough photo processing back log as is.  HDR Efex Pro works perfect as either a Lightroom plugin or filter in Photoshop which helps it to fit naturally into my existing workflow. Nik Software’s U-Point Technology also gives you amazing control in fine tuning very specific parts of an image from inside HDR Efex Pro, saving you even more time.

At times I really like the highly emphasized HDR effect and at other times I think a more realistic HDR effect better suites an image.  It really comes down to trying to recreate what was in my mind’s eye when I pressed the shutter button.  Expect a combination of both of these to start appearing more in 2011.  If you see the keyword HDR in the photo’s metadata, it was created from multiple bracketed exposures.  While I personally don’t think this is important to know (photos speak for themselves), I do know that some of my stock clients feel this is important.  It will also allow you to search through the Photo Archive quickly to find other HDR works.

And as always…comments are appreciated!

(This photo is part of my Yosemite gallery where it can be purchased as an Art Print or licensed for stock usage.)

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